In December of 1993, I was extremely lucky to find an employer who was willing to take a chance on a new university grad like me. I'd like to say that I was hired because of my incredible skill, but the fact of the matter is that my girlfriend, at that time, (we graduated from the same program) was already working for this specific firm. Her employer needed help for work that was beginning to overwhelm their numbers. Her employer had asked her if she happened to know anyone who would be able to help them. I was very Blessed, indeed.
Like many new grads, I remember the frustration that came with looking for work. For five months I submitted résumés and for five months I was told that I didn't have enough experience. I kept thinking to myself, "How the !#@* am I supposed to get experience if no one is giving me a chance to GET experience!?!" I believe THAT is THE thought issued to ALL new grads. In fact, that EXACT question, word for word, sprinkled with a few colorful explicative phrases, should be boldly type-written in Times New Roman font on EVERY diploma, followed by the facetious "Good Luck!" gesture that should be accompanied by rolling eyes!!!
I clearly remember the first day I walked through the doors of RDA, or RD+A, as they are presently known. One of my friends/colleagues, also one of the partners at RD+A, commented on my cover for U2's "With or Without You"; which was dedicated to the crew at RDA (of old). I responded with "I was scared $h!#less! My first impression couldn't have been any farther from the truth!" ... as part of my comment. My initial fear was a reaction to my first day at work and the fact that the owner of the firm, who greeted me, had the sternest demeanor about him. I was clearly intimidated! Then, he spoke with the kindest, most gentle voice. I was confused. His demeanor didn't match his personality. It turns out that he is the classic case of the catch phrase: "Don't judge a book by its cover". Ross Deckman is his name.
I also remember being told that my employment wasn't guaranteed, depending on the amount of work that came through the doors. It was a realistic approach. I respected that. I bet he tells that to all of his employees! Ross is ALWAYS honest and straightforward. Later on, he gestured that if work remained steady, then I was more than welcome to continue working with them. I will always remember the warmth of that sentiment. Ross may not remember, but I always will. So, I stayed happily employed for nine years before I was offered an opportunity to begin my own program at another business. Somehow, I was immensely Blessed again when a veteran business also decided to take a huge leap of Faith by placing their trust in me. It was a huge risk, but my wife and I were expecting our first child. I was motivated by developing a successful future for my new family. Though I was sad to leave my good friends, life has a way of evolving, and like a child I needed to leave my professional parent, spread my wings, and take flight.
Even though another nine years have passed, I remember my RDA days fondly and with great warmth. We were a close-knit family. Like all families, we experienced our bumps and bruises, from time to time, but that's how families grow. "Thank you" Ross for being the AMAZING leader that you are, a calm, quiet, steadfast, resilient, leader that set the foundation for my professional career. Ross, you taught me much, but the one lesson that has fused with my soul is that "there is ALWAYS a solution". Because of you, I face everything, and not just professionally, I face everything KNOWING that I will find the way. I will find the solution. Each and every solution will BE successful. So, "Thank you" Ross.
Because I will always consider RDA (a.k.a. RD+A) as my first professional family, I will never forget our time together. I will always think of Ross when I listen to Chicago, formerly known as The Big Thing, and also formerly known as The Chicago Transit Authority. It's really true! "Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?" That's how I personally feel about my family and friends. Time doesn't matter. Neither does distance! I feel like I can pick up where I last left off from a conversation that began several years ago. Celebrations and special occasions of many kinds can bring my family and friends together. The first smile is the doorway that bridges times passed. Hugs and handshakes are the continuation of those amazing relationships. Ross, it was either Chicago, or Neil Young, and I'm not quite ready to tackle a Neil Young cover ... YET! =) We've gotta do lunch one of these days, Ross. I hope that all of you are ALWAYS doing well!
"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" is a song written and sung by Robert Lamm for the rock band Chicago and recorded for their debut album The Chicago Transit Authority (1969).